Taiwan & the UN - confused

I’m hoping some of the Taiwan history buffs can enlighten me about an aspect of Taiwan’s recent history…

Most history that I’ve read about PRC gaining the UN seat for China says that Taiwan was thrown out after Nixon & Kissinger’s visit to the Mainland in 1971. But France previously recognized China in the mid-60’s.

What I’ve heard is that Taiwan had the opportunity to become a “country” recognized by the UN, but instead gave up this option as it would not give up the idea that they were indeed the ROC.

Does anyone know the truth about this? Alternatively, does anyone know a good historical source (not funded by either the DPP or KMT like a lot of what is on the Web!)that might shed some light on this important period of Taiwan’s history?

Wow…thats the first time I’ve heard the scenario that Taiwan was “thrown out of the UN” All the scenarios I’ve read about lean more towards that the ROC left on their own freewill. but maybe there is someone here who can answer you with more factual surety and referencing.

I can’t remember the exact details, but after America’s diplomatic recognition of the PRC most other nations followed. The thing is that the UN seat was the seat for ‘China’. It was kind of ridiculous that more than 20 years after they were kicked out, the ROC government still held the seat. So the UN set about changing it. There were discussions about sharing the seat or creating a new one, but Taiwan’s (ROC’s) big mistake was their refusal to accept anything less than their claim to represent all of China. It was all or nothing and they ended with nothing. They’ve been paying for it ever since.

Sorry, no dates or details or anything, but that’s the gist fo it.


I heard the same thing that Bu Lai En mentions. I it heard from the Liberian Ambassador to Taiwan. He use to be my neighbor and we stay up late drinking and talking politics. It was great to hear his first hand opinions of the different politicians in Taiwan as he had met them all. Once when I was at an AIT party I verified this part about the ROC refusing to be listed in the UN as anything but the ruler of China with one of the higher level people at AIT. They confirmed what I was told by the Liberian Ambassador.

Really stupid if you ask me. Now it is too late to change their name to Taiwan and join the UN as Taiwan. If they do something like this the Communist PRC would say Taiwan was moving towards independence and invade or soemthing. This sort of PRC action would be even more MORE stupid because Taiwan is already Independent! Whatever. You can’ reason to a Commie with a gun.

Just like the locals who will not accept a market price for their apartment

more to the ROC’s withdrawal than that according to a recent Taipei Times article:

according to this, Taiwan’s diplomats were tacitly willing to accept “dual representation” in the UN, but were outflanked by China, and its growing number of supporters.

Another interesting point from the article (from Taiwanese diplomats): if Taiwan had managed to stay in, perhaps under the name Taiwan, China would have refused to join.
Given the geopolitics of the time - Kissinger in Beijing - and the billion-odd other people in the PRC, the UN would soon enough have come to see it China’s way.

Salmon, thanks for your post and the URL of that article in the Taipei Times.

Thanks Salmon, that pretty much covers it…

Looks like the PRC is still throwing its considerable weight around.

The US changed recognition from the ROC to the PRC. Officially, ROC at that time still had delusions of taking back China. UN Resolution 2759 gave the “rightful” representation of “China” to the PRC. Since the China seat had the power of veto, the US arranged that the ROC would not exercise it. When the resolution was call on the floor of the UN, the ROC reps walked out of the UN and has not been back since. The Taiwan issue still has not been resolved by the UN. The SFPT that established the UN and ended WWII stated that a vote from the people of Taiwan was to determine it’s fate. But the cold war came and the vote never happened.

you can get more info from www.taiwandc.org
It has it’s biases but it’s a good source of info.


The ROC walked out of the UN in 1971 minutes before the UN voted to give the China seat to Beijing. The US did not have support in its earlier efforts to allow both the ROC and the PRC in the UN, and as mentioned above, the ROC would not have accepted such an arrangement, and neither would the PRC.

The United States did not formally recognize the PRC until 1979.

Had Nixon not been distracted by Watergate, and had he served his entire second term which was supposed to run through 1976, many argue that he would have changed the recognition during his second term. The Ford administration was too weak to undertake such a move, and the fall of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to the communists in 1975 made it less likely that Ford would change the recognition. During this period the US had a representative office in Beijing, and for part of this time the first President Bush was the representative.

In the 1976 election campaign Jimmy Carter said that if elected, he would change the recognition, which he did in 1979, the intervening years spent in negotiating with Beijing the terms of the recognition.

I read somewhere that Taiwan had a very strong chance in 1968 - but they shat in their own nest - to put it simply

This is an interesting series of posts. But what does it all mean? Is Taiwan an independent country or a part of the PRC? Does anyone have some good answers?

Richard; good question.

I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on Taiwan’s satus under international law. Not the best piece of work, but i did get honors for it.

check it out:

when you click on the link, it’ll say the file doesn’t exist. that’s okay, just look at the url and delete the .html
I use this as an anti-idiot block.

Why can’t Taiwan set up offical embassies in other countries and vice versa. Is it to do with the fact that they are not in the UN or is it cause the ROC does not offically exist?

In that case, if a ROC person comes into the UK for example, then why is their passort excepted. If the UK recognizes the PRC, and if Taiwan is part of the PRC, then shouldn’t Taiwanese have to have a PRC passport when going into the UK.

Could the PRC say that accepting an ROC passport as an offical document pertains to some sort of official/formal recognition of the ROC or the MOFA of the ROC?


UN recognition and bilateral recognition are too different things, e.g., the US does not recognize Cuba, however Cuba is a member of the UN. Occasionally, Castro goes to NY.

Of course, passports from Taiwan are still accepted anywhere important, but this is not tantamount to official recognition. In a sense, Taiwan has a “special relationship” with a lot of countries.

Taiwan does conduct diplomatic relations with many nations, but at an unofficial level.

So the reason embassies can’t be set up, is cause other countries don’t wish to piss off the PRC, as the PRC would see this as a move to recognize the ROC… I find this annoying as offices in institutes in Tawian have no real power…and most of them maybe barring te AIT are nothing but trading offices, and the people in there are more interested in trade than in helping their citizens

So these bi-lateral agreements mean that countries recognize the Republic Of China and the PRC…is that not a contradiction if there is only one China?
Could a citizen of the ROC seek diplomatic protection in their ‘consulate’ in the US…or would they need to go to the PRC embassy to seek protection?
Are ROC officals travelling to the EU or the USA etc entilted to diplomatic immunity or to go through diplomatic channels in passprt control?
Does Taiwan have extradiction treaties ?
I am wondering how far these bi-lateral agreements go.

If I was convicted of first degree murder in Taiwan…and went to the US for a job…in the application form…where it asks…have you ever beeb convicted of a crime (in the US or another country)…could I truthfully say no…as the ROC is not a country…

I am also curious to know…how did the PRC become the offical government of the China.

And how did they manage to gain acceptance that Taiwan was part of this.

If we use the example of Korea…countries recognize the North and the South as two differnt countries.

My simply thinking was that the South or the North could not claim parts of the peninsula that they did not control. Then how could the PRC claim Taiwan as they never controlled it.

If I invaded Ilan in the morning and set up the Zhukov Republic and I managed to hold off the ROC forces and we arrived at a stale mate, could I not then seek recognition to be recognized as a country.

But what is the body or the register I need to be added onto to become a country… Would I just need the UN or would I need all countries of the world to recognize it.
Or would A Bian saying, the ROC recognizes my country be good enough to get internationally recognized, and get put on the Atlas, or A Bian saying that he will never recognize the Zhukov Republic means that it will forever stop my country form being recognized

And then would all the contents of Ilan fall under the Zhukov Republic, including the people, the natural resources, the 12 miles of water along the coast.

Is this not what happend to the Taiwanese. They were Japenese citizens, then they became ROC citizens without being asked first. Then Taiwan became part of the ROC, but on what grounds can the ROC or the PRC say that Tawian is theirs.
The only people it really can belong to are the people who were born here. This is probabily an old arguement though.

Of course China’s logic for staking their claim is that Taiwan is inhabitated by ethnic Chinese, and was under the control of China in the past.

But accepting it on that you would need to accept that Germany is still entitled to areas in Poland that they once possessed.

My question is where can the line be drawn on claiming an area or island as a part of a country just because it was for a certain period in history, or cause a lot of the people there have the same culture or look the same as the people whose country claims this area

Is Taiwan a country or is it part of China?

Under SFPT, Article 4 created the occupational authority of the Allied Powers, namely the USA and ROC as far as Taiwan is concerned. Article 25 recognized the USA as the “principle occupational authority” of the SFPT. Remember that Formosa was Japanese prior to the 1951 surrender, and the Taipei Treaty was terminated by Japan in 1972. The ROC can’t make a sovereign claim under SFPT, and the PRC “friendship treaty” is superceded by Article 26 of SFPT.


It is my contention that the Taiwan Relations Act treats Taiwan territory like a ‘trust territory’ of SFPT, but under the Civil Affair regulations of US miliary law. This SFPT status was created by the TRA following the Jimmy Carter “derecognition” of ROC as a juridical person of Taiwan under Article 4. The TRA “trust territory” status is more specifically defined under the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

The original surrender documents of Taiwan by Japan seems to indicate a benign US interest in Taiwan status since October 25, 1945. The SFPT seems compatible with and affirms this, too.